Memphis woman creates bed bug monitor

MEMPHIS — A Memphis entomologist has created a bed bug monitor.

The ClimbUp Insect Interceptor looks like a white, plastic underside of a dog bowl with two wells to determine whether bed bugs are present in a household.

The center well, coated with talc to keep the bugs trapped inside, tells if the stink bug’s cousin is climbing down from the bed. The outer pitfall, coated with slick paper, determines if it is approaching the bed from the room.

It’s the creation of Susan McKnight, who told The Commercial Appeal it’s a needed public service.

“Once bed bugs are established in a building, it’s a very tedious and laborious process to treat for them,” said McKnight, 59. “This is an affordable means to monitor bed bugs. With these (interceptors) you can catch them early. Or post-treatment you can tell if you missed a spot.”

Founded a year ago, Susan McKnight Inc. sold 36,000 units in September to half a dozen distributors and through individual orders online, up from 8,000 in August.

Though the plastic is molded in Connecticut, McKnight moved the assembly, packaging and shipping side of the business to a two-room office in Memphis this summer.

“I’m getting older and going to retire soon, so I went to my CPA and asked where was the best place to start a business,” McKnight said.

Among Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee, McKnight chose the Mid-South to set up shop because of climate, proximity to family, business-friendly environment and shipping giant FedEx.

She’s pleased with her decision, especially when it comes to labor force, and has already begun to make a difference in her new community through her hiring practices.

Out of eight employees, three were hired through Alpha Omega Veterans Services Inc., a nonprofit that provides support services and housing for disabled and displaced veterans.

“A little over a month ago I was homeless and diagnosed with depression, which led to alcoholism,” said Air Force veteran Alfred Duncan, 39. “Now I have a place to stay and a job.”

The Associated Press